I'm sure that the comments made by Dr Carole Lieberman regarding Bulletstorm this past week are still fresh in your mind. I'm also sure that for many of you, myself included, they remain a point of contention.
Many of you are also likely to be aware of the Google bombing that took place on her Amazon product page, while I don't condone this action I do understand it. With this in mind I decided to contact Dr Lieberman in order to clarify her position on the story - surprisingly I got a response. A far less emotional one than is present in her press release.
My questions and her answers follow:
1.) A number of the comments made on your Amazon product page have received replies from your 'team'. Are these genuine or the act of a independent party?
Yes, a 'member of my team' who does social media did genuinely contact some of the people who left derogatory comments, clearly precipitated by the FoxNews.com article and those that stemmed from it.
2.) The comment made seems rather difficult to portray in a positive light - in what way were your comments taken out of context by Fox news?
I wrote lengthy commentaries for FoxNews.com in response to the reporter's questions, including a paragraph from which the sentence, that seems to have garnered the most attention, was changed. I had written: Video games have increasingly, and more brazenly, connected sex and violence in images, actions and words. This has the psychological impact of doubling the excitement, stimulation and incitement to copycat acts. The increase in rapes can be attributed, in large part, to the playing out of such scenes in video games.
I also described my background as an expert in media violence: I'm a forensic psychiatrist, former chair of the National Coalition on TV Violence, and expert on media violence.
I also contributed a chapter/essay to Larry King's book, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, about the negative impact of media violence. I will be happy to send you that essay.
My background also includes having been a media violence researcher for 20 years, during which time I have testified before Congress, stopped the 'Schwarzenegger rocket' (which was to have had an ad for "Last Action Hero" on the outside), done numerous media interviews on this topic, and so on.
3a.) When did you become aware of all this?
When did I become aware of the FoxNews.com story? When I was sent a Google alert to it.
3b.) If prior to the Amazon issue, have you had any contact with Fox news regarding this?
Not sure of the exact timing, since I have been bombarded by emails, interview requests, and additional Google alerts, as well as Amazon, but I have complained to the reporter from FoxNews.com. Here is a portion of what I wrote to him - I had no idea what a backlash your story would generate. I have been a researcher and expert in media violence for years - and have spoken out in the media countless times about it.
I was the head of NCTV, testified before Congress, and even stopped the Schwarzenegger rocket in 1993 because it was going to have an ad for his violent movie "Last Action Hero" on it. But, never has there been such a 'violent' backlash. These are obviously people who have played too many violent video games themselves, and/or may be working for the company that produced Bulletstorm.
However, you did take my quote out of context which has contributed to the problem. In my email to you I wrote:
Video games have increasingly, and more brazenly, connected sex and violence in images, actions and words. This has the psychological impact of doubling the excitement, stimulation and incitement to copycat acts. The increase in rapes can be attributed, in large part, to the playing out of such scenes in video games.
You distilled this down to: Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, told FoxNews.com that sexual situations and acts in video games -- highlighted so well in Bulletstorm -- have led to real-world sexual violence. Also, my name is spelled Carole Lieberman, and I am a psychiatrist not a psychologist. What do you suggest to correct these errors?
Pictured: Fox news reporter - next time use spellcheck!
3c. Are you going to take any action against Fox news for your misrepresentation?
Not sure. It depends on how damaging to me this turns out to be.
5.) As you're aware the Fox news article has been the subject of a great deal of controversy in the gamer community, do you think this is justified?
I think it is very sad, and rather frightening, that so many people are still so ill-informed, or in denial, about research that has been done over decades by researchers all over the world. It's similar to cigarette manufacturers denying that cigarettes cause cancer. I understand that some of this is due to the greed of the video game manufacturers, but still, it is time for us all to try to make the world a safer, more peaceful place. And raising children on games that teach them that murder and rape is just a 'game', creates a sad prognosis for our future. I treat patients, and evaluate forensic cases, whose lives have been shattered by acts of aggression (including rape) where the perpetrator has been incited by video games or other violent media, and often even acted out copy cat violence.
Ok, who let the Geraniums play BulletStorm?
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my position.
I'm sure this is not the response many of you were expecting after the Doctor's claims of misrepresentation, but nonetheless these are the answers I've received.
It would appear as though her apology is in regards to any offence caused, rather than the actual content of her comment. However, I do think that, since the Doctor is open to communication on the subject, a discourse can be opened.
As such I've replied with the invitation to discuss the subject in further depth. My e-mail to the Doctor, and her response (SHOULD she respond), will be the subject of my next blog.
If you have any questions or points to put towards the good Doctor do let me know!